Interventions for Video Game Addiction in Littleton, CO—Counselors and Therapists

Theo has been gaming since college. He and his friends had a great set-up in their apartment where they played all the time. After they graduated and moved for jobs, everyone but Theo gave up gaming. Theo still plays all night several times a week. Instead of napping between classes like he did in college, Theo has to be at work all day. His work performance is suffering. Several coworkers who were hired at the same time have already been promoted ahead of him. Theo has tried to cut back, but within a few weeks, he back to playing almost around the clock. Theo is wondering if he needs more help. He is wondering if he has a video game addiction.

Many people are talking about video game addictions because many people are struggling with compulsive gaming. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) labels these behaviors internet gaming disorder and calls for more study on whether they fit the formal definition of addiction.

Whether video games are addictive or not, it is clear that a lot of people experience difficulty controlling their impulses when it comes to gaming. Many people are also seeking help from interventions traditionally associated with addiction. In particular, 12-step programs have been formed for video game users, and mental health practices are accepting clients who struggle with gaming.

The therapists at Thriveworks Littleton understand how video games can take control of a person’s life. They also understand what it takes to regain control and healthy gaming habits.

Recognizing Internet Gaming Disorder

Video game addiction or internet gaming disorder occurs when people cannot control when, where, how, and how long they game. It can occur in men, women, boys, and girls, but men and boys experience it at greater rates. Potentially, 10 percent of all gamers ages 8-18 have difficulty regulating their video game play.

According to the DSM-5, internet gaming disorder can be severe, moderate, or mild. The amount of symptoms people display determines the severity modifier for the disorder. Such symptoms include:

  • Tolerance: gaming for more time to feel the same level of satisfaction.
  • Obsession: thinking about gaming all the time, whether one is playing or not.
  • Distraction: playing video games to relieve uncomfortable emotions such as boredom, guilt, shame, loneliness, sadness, fear, or anxiety.
  • Avoidance: gaming instead of working through a life challenge or problem.
  • Withdrawal: feeling depression, irritable, moody, or restless when not playing or trying to stop.
  • Misplaced Priorities: giving more time and attention to gaming than one’s personal or professional relationships.
  • Deceit: Being dishonest about one’s gaming habits.

Because internet gaming disorder also affects children and teens, parents should look for these additional signs:

  • Falling asleep at school—general lethargy and drowsiness.
  • Not doing homework.
  • Dropping grades.
  • Losing interest in activities, sports, and friends.
  • Gaming alone.

How Does Internet Gaming Disorder Start?

The various factors that can lead to compulsive video game use are still being studied, but one theory suggests that the narratives of many games is a significant contributor. Mobile games, massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG), and social networking games frequently utilize core loops or compulsion loops.

These loops establish a system wherein the reward from one challenge naturally ties into the next level of challenge. There is no natural break in the narrative where players can stop, and with every reward, dopamine is released, solidifying the brain’s connection between the game and pleasure.

For example, players have to slay monsters in the game, Monster Hunter. After each successful battle (challenge), players receive the defeated monster’s powers (reward) that will help them defeat the next monster (loops into the next challenge). Meanwhile, players are also receiving dopamine release with every victory.

Counseling for Compulsive Gaming at Thriveworks Littleton

Online gaming disorder, when left unaddressed, can cause major challenges in people’s lives, including emotional, relational, and physical problems:

  • Emotional: When emotional problems such as anxiety or depression are soothed with video games but never healed, they often grow worse.
  • Relational: Deceit, irresponsible spending, and excessive time spend on video games can drive friends and family away.
  • Physical: Sleep disturbances, severe headaches, dry eyes, back pain, poor hygiene, and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome are often experienced by people who struggle with compulsive gaming.

Many people are regaining control over the video game use and avoiding these challenges through counseling.

If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional, Thriveworks Littleton has appointments available for both children and adults who may have internet gaming disorder.

 We accept many forms of insurance. Evening and weekend appointments are also available, but you will not be put on a waitlist. Our hope is that clients receive the treatment they need—when they need it.

We are ready to get started. Contact Thriveworks Littleton today.

Thriveworks Counseling

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Thriveworks Counseling


  • 9200 W. Cross Dr. Suite #225
    Littleton , CO 80123

  • Mon-Fri:7:30AM-9PM

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